Friday, June 24, 2016

New Transfer, Same Area

I'm late posting Alex's latest email because I was on vacation in Australia. I have lots of photos to post from my trip, but I am not very good about making time to blog lately. I was able to see a few missionaries in the airports and took photos to send home, but I didn't see a single missionary in Australia, even at the temple. 

Alex didn't write much and didn't send any pics at all.  So this is a very short post. 

To everyone:
This transfer nothing is changing in my area. My companion is becoming
the district leader. I'm glad to work in Odate for another six weeks.

With the whole transfer schedule though, I don't have too much time to
email at the moment, so I'll just leave it at that.

Kanji of the week is: 中華 pronounced "chu-ka" and is used for things
that are Chinese, such as cuisine or such.

I love you all and wish you a good week!


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hard Work

 As humans, we tend to be--to some degree or another--lazy. We don't
want to plant all day in the hot sun, so we make machines that do it
for us. I am not saying technology is bad, because without technology
I couldn't be writing to you all in this way. However, it goes to show
that we tend to want a life of easy. What I've come to find out
though, is that those initial thoughts of wanting to do things the
"easy way" are actually the harder way in the end. As President Benson
once said, "there is no satisfactory substitute to work." We feel so
much more accomplished, so much more relaxed, after a good day of
exerting all our efforts. As crazy as it might sound, it's true. If
you don't believe me, try it out; nothing bad will come of it, I

Scripture of the week is Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3 Yea, behold, I
will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which
shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold,
this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which
Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry

Kanji of the week is: 勤勉 pronounced "keen-ben," and means diligence.

Monday was district p-day, and that was fun. We went to an owl cafe,
where you basically get a drink or some food, and then you have around
an hour to roam around the owls they have. They had really small ones,
and really big ones. You could pet them, and hold them. In the evening
we went around to visit people, and got a good lesson in with one of
our investigators. We also found some good potential investigators.

Tuesday we had service as usual, and they were great again. Then we
did a lot of finding, got some good conversations in with people, and
even met two middle school students who, when we asked them what they
thought the purpose of life was, said, "this life is given to us from
God, so we should use our time wisely, and serve others." They were
great kids, and very deep thinkers for 13-ish year old children.

Wednesday we went and had a good lesson with a less active, followed
by weekly planning. After weekly planning, we went to family home
evening with a member. Then, we had English class. As always, I love
English class, and I love the students even more.

Thursday was district training meeting. We had a fun time, and learned
a lot. Following that, we started splits. I was in Hirosaki with Elder
C. We had a good fun time, and even found them a good potential
investigator. They've been finding a lot of investigators for the
sisters lately, so he was happy to have someone new to teach.

Friday was spent mostly in Aomori for interviews. I love the Smith's
and their love for the gospel; it truly is a strength to all those
around them. When we got back, we did some finding, but not much to
talk about there.

Saturday was pretty busy with district conference meetings, and that
took up the majority of the day. We were able to meet an investigator
before hand, and went to lunch with him. He is a great guy, and when
we told him about repentance, and how it can help him become a better
person, and improve, he said that he really wanted to do it! The
gospel can truly change people. After the meetings, we met with an
investigator, who is really smart, and has a knowledge of just about
everything in the church because he read the "guide to the scriptures"
before attempting to read the Book of Mormon so that he would
understand it more.

Sunday we had a lot more time for finding, and we went to one
apartment building that had three people almost in a row accept us,
and a Book of Mormon. We only got one appointment set up, but the
other two were okay with us going back and talking, if they were ever
free. The rest of the day was tough as far as finding goes, but it
wasn't bad.

Can't believe that it's already been five weeks since I came to Odate,
and only one more week in the transfer. I want to work as hard as I
can, and will give my best to my Father in Heaven.

Have a great week!



A small gift given to us by the Seza family (the husband is
President Smith's first counselor).

Monday, June 6, 2016

Loving God

Alex said that for their district p-day activity yesterday (Monday in Japan), they went to an owl bar where you pay to get in and get unlimited drinks and "all you can pet and hold owls". I've never heard of such a thing. He was excited about it and even said. "I love owls!" 

He even sent a short video, but I

I was reading "Jesus the Christ" by James E. Talmage the other day, and he talked about the first great commandment, to love God with all
your heart, might, mind, and strength. He said that this one
commandment encompasses all the commandments, for if you love God, you
will do what He asks. It also implies that you don't do it just to do
it. As I've heard it explained before, the commandment includes the
inward hear and mind, not just the outward might and strength. The
more we learn about the true nature of God, the more we will come to
love Him, for He is truly a perfect Father, full of love, mercy, and
patience. My invitation to you all is to learn to love God with all
your heart, might, mind, and strength.

Scripture of the week is Mathew 22:36-39, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Kanji of the week is: 臨死体験 pronounced "reen-shee-tai-ken" and means near death experience. For those who might worry: no, I didn't have a near death experience this week.

Monday was as all Monday's go, and we mostly just relaxed in the
apartment during the preparation day part of it. In the evening, it
was too wet for us to use our bikes, so we walked around and tried to find someone interested at home. There were some that were, but
everyone was busy, and couldn't make any promises. We also tried to visit an investigator, but he had just gotten home from grocery
shopping. We did make a visit for that Thursday though.

Tuesday we had service, as usual, and that was fun. We then went to try and visit some potential investigators, and to house, but not much came of it. Shortly after starting our departure from the area, it started raining, and rained for the rest of the day. We felt like we
should go visit a less active member, so we walked there, but the wife didn't want us to come over anymore. We then houses in the area for a bit, but nothing else really happened.

Wednesday was also rainy, off an on all day. We walked over to visit a less active, and had a good talk with him about family history. Then we went and had a lesson with a different investigator. It was a good lesson, but he's been struggling with commitments as of late. We'll keep helping him though. After that we did most of weekly planning, and went to a members house for family home evening. That was also fun, as it always is. Then we had English class, which was about the same as every week since I've come to Japan.

Thursday we went to Hirosaki in the morning, and had splits. I was in Hirosaki with Elder S. We had a lesson with a less active
member, which went really well, and tried to visit some potential
investigators, which were all not home. Not much else to say about

Friday we had zone training meeting, which is always a great spiritual experience. Afterwards, we had lunch made for us by the Shortleff's, a couple missionary for military relations. Because they have access to cheap American food, we had taco salad, and it was super delicious. Those back home won't fully understand why, since it seems so normal, but it was a commodity here. I love Japanese food, its delicious, but it was good to have American food again. We then finished weekly while waiting for our train, went home, and tried to find again, with not too much luck. We did meet a really nice family, who have meet with missionaries in the past. We're going to try and start something up with them soon.

Saturday was a lot of finding, with not too many things happening in that time. It was a good day though. We had English class in the
evening, and afterwards went to dinner with a student. He took us to a famous restaurant throughout Japan, although I can't remember the name. They are mainly famous for their Oyakodon, which is a dish consisting of chicken and eggs (scrambled, for lack of a better term) on top of rice. It was delicious! He's such a nice guy.

Sunday was pretty busy, we met with an investigator family of the
sisters' to help build more of s relationship, and have them come to
church. The wife taught us origami, and the husband entertained us
with his humor. The rest of they day was finding, and that was good, although not too much to report.

That's my week! I hope you all got something out of it, and remember to learn to love God, because there is so much to love!





Monday, May 30, 2016

Through the Weak and Simple

It was fun to get Alex's letter today and funny to read some of the things he writes in English now that he's been speaking Japanese for more than a year and a half now. Like this: 

"I would also like to learn Spanish, because I feel like it's long time I figured out that language."

I shouldn't laugh because I know how it is when you are immersed in another language and it affects how you think and speak in your own language. 

I was happy to see that they have an investigator with a baptism date who they are working with. It's the last Saturday of that transfer so I'm kinda hoping Alex doesn't get transferred somewhere else so he can stay and continue to fellowship him as a new member. I'm sure it's hard for someone who gets baptized and then his missionaries who he knows leave. 

This week was really special, because we had the privilege of spending
two hours with Elder Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Gong
of the Seventy, and Elder Yamashita of the Asia North Area Presidency.
What love these men, and their wives, have for not only us, but also
all of God's children. Being a member of the Church for my entire
life, I've always grown up seeing the general authorities on the TV,
and thinking that they were so much different than us. One of the
things I really learned from this meeting was that Elder Stevenson is
a normal man with a special calling. God can do anything through
anyone, no matter how weak, even through me.
Scripture of the week is Exodus 19:5-6, "Now therefore, if ye will
obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a
peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.
These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of
Kanji of the week is: 秋田犬 pronounced "ah-key-tah-ee-new," and is the
special breed of dog that was born in Odate and the surround area.
Fried rice that Elder S made
Monday was good, relaxing, and refreshing. In the evening we met with an investigator who is so close to figuring out everything for himself, but is afraid that if he prays that the Spirit will come to him and tell him something he doesn't want to hear. He says that he'll eventually get baptized once he figures things out for himself though. The rest of the night was just housing. Tuesday was service, and that was fun again. The people we work with are so nice! After that we went to go visit a less active, but he was busy, so we couldn't meet. After that we tried to talk with people on the streets, but there weren't too many people. We then met with a member for family home evening. He's a great man, and really funny. We then also met with two other less active members, and they are both nice.
Wednesday we woke up early to catch a bus to Sendai. Then, we spent two hours with Elder Stevenson, Elder Gong, and Elder Yamashita, and their wives. As my companion so well put it, "as soon as the meeting started, it was like general conference." Only this conference was directed to 100 missionaries. Elder Gong, speaking of Elder Stevenson, said that as an Apostle, he loves all people, and desires all of their salvation; from the way he talked and instructed us, you could tell it was true. Elder Stevenson Served in Fukuoka as a full time missionary, Nagoya as a mission president, and in the Asia North Presidency, which includes Japan. He also had a business that dealt a lot with Japan. Needless to say, his Japanese is great, and what a unique experience we were able to have in hearing one of the Twelve bear testimony in Japanese (although most of his talk was in English). I could say so much more about what I learned, and a bunch of stuff. But this email is too long already.
Chocolate that I got for my birthday. I got it Wednesday, because an
investigator in Furukawa hear when my birthday was, and decided to buy
me a present. I left before my birthday, but she gave it to the elders
to give to me. I am so glad they didn't eat it!
Thrusday was spent mostly coming back to Odate and weekly planning. We also had a lesson with an investigator and his friend, who became an investigator. Friday was great, and the part that I would really like to say is that because of the things we were able to learn from Elder Stevenson, we got a new baptismal date (June 18). He was so happy to hear of the great blessings of comfort and relief from guilt that baptism brings. And we're happy to help him get to that point. Saturday was great, and we had lots of fun talking with lots of people. Sunday we were going around and were following up on someone we talked to two weeks ago. We didn't know if he had too much interest, but followed up just because that's what we do. He ended up having lots of interest, asked us about our beliefs, and the Book of Mormon. When we had talked a bit, he then asked us how he could know for himself. It was a great lesson, and things are looking even better than they were before (not that it was bad before). This week has been great, and I am looking forward to having an even better time this next week. I love you all! Love, Elder 長老
McDonald's Loco Moco burger, a Hawaiian burger here for a limited time in Japan. 


Monday, May 23, 2016

Change is Possible

Something that I really felt strongly this week is that because of the
atonement that Christ performed for us, we can change. As seemingly
stuck in old habits as we might think we are, there is nothing that
Christ can't, if we let Him, change and make into a beautiful work of
art. I've seen it in my life, on my mission, and in the lives of
others. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live, and they are helping us
become the best people we can become.
Some delicious food that my companion Elder S. made

Scripture of the week is Isaiah 53:3-5, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Kanji of the week: 気象学 pronounced "key-show-gah-coo" and means meteorology Monday was busy just because it was my first in Odate. We had fun, and in the evening we did lots of housing. Tuesday we had service, which was drying old people's hair and serving them drinks. It was fun. The rest of the day was spent finding.

Hamburgers at a restaurant after district meeting
Wednesday we went to visit a less active, and he was nice, but a little hard to talk to. Then we went and had a lesson with an investigator, and he was really good. He's progressing, and he's said he recognizes a change in himself since starting to meet with the missionaries. We did some more finding, and then went to a members house for family home evening. He's a great member, and has a great testimony. English class was fun too, and we had lots of people come. Thursday we had weekly planning, and did lots of finding before going to an investigator's house and having a great lesson with him. He is really close to accepting the church, and we're doing all we can to help him. Friday we went up to Hirosaki for district meeting. It was fun, and I learned a lot. We got back, finished studies, and then went to find more investigators. We did find one, and she seemed like a very genuinely interested person. But, since she's a woman, we passed her to the sisters to teach. After that we went to another investigator's house and had a great lesson with him too. He's really accepting what we are teaching, and is a really nice man.
One of MANY dog statues in Odate
Saturday we went to find more investigators, and we succeeded again! We went housing in two areas, but after no success in those areas, we went to a new area. On the way there we stopped to high school kids, and talked about the purpose of life, God, and taught them how to pray. We have another appointment with them this week. Then we got another investigator when we were housing. It was really awesome. English class is twice a week here in Odate, and so we had that then. It was fun, but not too many people came this time. Sunday was great, and I loved the chance to partake of sacrament. I also got to see some members from Hachinohe, who came because it was branch conference. A lot of our day was spent in meetings and other things with counselor duties, and also studies. We tried to have a lesson with an investigator, but he wasn't home, despite making an appointment. We housed near by, and got to talk with some people, but not too many people were interested. That's my week. Hope you didn't die reading all this! I love you all! Love, Elder 長老
Elder C. is holding up a snack called Takenoko, a mushroom looking snack with a cookie base and chocolate top.
There is a big debate between these and "Kinoko" (chocolate covered cookies shaped like bamboo shoot tops that 
look like pine cones) which is similar to, if not more fierce than Coke versus Pepsi in